Film Quarterly editor B. Ruby Rich moderates a discussion of Julien’s genre-breaking and immersive installation about Frederick Douglass, Lessons of the Hour, which eschews cultural idealization of the abolitionist while revealing Douglass as a visionary and continued force for human rights in the twenty-first century.
Rich has written extensively about Julien’s filmmaking, having coined the term “New Queer Cinema” to describe a movement in queer-themed, independent filmmaking that emerged in the early 1990s and focused on the filmographies of Julien and peers such as Gregg Araki, Todd Haynes, Derek Jarman, Tom Kalin, Sally Potter, and Yvonne Rainer. Julien and Rich are joined by professors Kass Banning in the Cinema Studies Institute at the University of Toronto and Warren Crichlow of York University, Toronto. The two recently co-published the article “A Grand Panorama: Isaac Julien, Frederick Douglass, and Lessons of the Hour,” Film Quarterly vol. 73, no. 4 (Summer): 11–24.
ABOUT THE PARTICIPANTS
Professor Kass Banning teaches in the Cinema Studies Institute at the University of Toronto, where she researches and teaches Black Diaspora and minoritarian Canadian moving image practice, to include expanded documentary, global screen cultures, black visuality and aesthetics, and artists’ moving image installation. Banning’s scholarly engagement with Julien’s practice began in the 1980’s. With the emergence of Julien’s multi-screen works in the 2000s, she followed him into the gallery. Banning co-edited the anthology Gendering the Nation: Canadian Women’s Cinema (Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1999), and co-founded and co-edited two Canadian quarterlies, CineAction and Borderlines, for over a decade. Her most recent publication—co-written with Warren Crichlow—“A Grand Panorama: Isaac Julien, Frederick Douglass and Lessons of the Hour” appears in Film Quarterly, Summer 2020.
Professor Warren Crichlow teaches at York University, Toronto, Canada, where he researches and teaches educational studies, including pedagogical dimensions of visual culture, museum and memory studies, and Black visual culture. Most recently, he co-edited Spaces of New Colonialism: Reading Schools, Museums and Cities in the Tumult of Globalization (Peter Lang, 2020). “A Grand Panorama: Isaac Julien, Frederick Douglass, and Lessons of the Hour,” with Kass Banning, Film Quarterly, Summer 2020, is his most recent publication. Currently, he is co-editing a book on intersections of architecture and pedagogy in the prose-fiction of W. G. Sebald (1944-2001), tentatively titled Unsettling Complacency: Hope and Ethical Responsibility.
Isaac Julien, CBE RA (b. 1960) is an artist, filmmaker, and educator whose multi-screen film installations and photographs incorporate different artistic disciplines to create a poetic and unique visual language. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark; The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; MAC Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; the De Pont Museum, Netherlands; Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; Pompidou Centre Paris; and MoCA Miami. He has exhibited at the La Biennale de Venezia, Johannesburg Biennale, Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, and Shanghai Biennale. Julien is the recipient of The Royal Academy of Arts Charles Wollaston Award 2017 and was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2017. He is currently a Distinguished Professor of the Arts at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he is developing the Isaac Julien Lab. He lives and works in London and Santa Cruz.
B. Ruby Rich is a writer, educator, and film critic and has been the editor of Film Quarterly, published by the University of California Press,since 2013. She is the author of New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013) and Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998). She has written, as a journalist, for The Guardian (UK), The Nation, Village Voice, New York Times, Sight and Sound (UK), San Francisco Bay Guardian, and many others. On radio, she has been a film commentator for The Arts Today on CBC and The World, for PRI, and on All Things Considered on NPR. A member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and of SAG-AFTRA, she is Professor Emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and lives between San Francisco and Paris.
Film Quarterly combines the best of scholarship and journalism since 1959 to publish in-depth articles, reviews, and interviews on all aspects of cinema, media, and society—from film classics to emergent technologies. Film Quarterly is committed to advancing timely and intersectional approaches to the criticism and analysis of visual culture through exploring new perspectives on issues of diversity, race, gender, sexuality, and transnationalism.
The West Coast premiere of Lessons of the Hour includes an exhibition of Julien’s related photography and selections from the McEvoy Family Collection that further explore questions of identity, justice, history, and image-making in the film installation. New Labor Movements, a resonant original program of film and video shorts curated by Leila Weefur, explores contemporary visions of America and concepts of transnational Blackness. A series of online conversations with these artists and invited thinkers and scholars take place throughout the run of the exhibition. The project is produced in part with the partnership of the Isaac Julien Lab at UC Santa Cruz. Led by Julien and his collaborator, Mark Nash, the Lab offers an intensive research-based graduate program that emphasizes partnership and inter-disciplinary collaboration with contemporary artists, curators, and institutions across the globe.
This conversation is co-presented with Film Quarterly.